First, a crazy thing happened to me after I wrote this. I hope you’ll read to the end where I can tell you.
Every day, we’re faced with doing the right thing vs. the easy thing, and it’s easy to see that all the problems in our world can be reduced to when people do the latter.
- It’s easier to pollute than to dispose of trash properly.
- It’s easier to eat ice cream than to exercise.
- It’s easier to watch television than to meditate.
How can you make it easier to choose the right thing? Focus on the results, not the work.
Years ago, I was driving from Santa Rosa, California to Berkeley—a drive that ought to take about an hour and a half. It took over three hours.
After sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for about ninety unnecessary minutes, I finally came to the problem. There was a tire sitting in the middle of one of the two lanes. That was all.
No accident. No ambulances. No sobriety checkpoint. No sinkhole. Just…a…tire.
I was so angry and exasperated—and relieved to see the open road beyond the tire—that I did what everyone in front of me had already done: drove around it and sped off.
I regret that moment to this day.
Of course, the right thing was to pull over, stop traffic, and roll the tire off the freeway. It might have taken four minutes. I had the opportunity to save hundreds, maybe thousands of people, hours of time and frustration, but I only thought of myself.
If it had occurred to me the opportunity I had to be a hero at that moment, I would have jumped at the chance to be it. I would still today think back at that moment and swell with pride, but instead it’s a painful reminder of where I took the easy way out (though that reminder can be useful, too).
If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
Instead of focusing on how hard the right thing to do is, or whatever emotions you have around it, think about how important it is. See the impact it will have. Feel it. Be it.
What is your tire in the road right now?
Hit comment and let me know. I’d love to hear about it.
P.S. About two hours after I wrote this, I left my house to do errands. I live off of a dirt road, so the first large rock I came across was uncommon but not rare. Of course, I had to stop and move it! Then after about 500 more feet, I came across two more large rocks. I moved them, too. I kid you not, I stopped a third time and moved another large rock before making my way to the famous “Road to Hana” that would take me to town.
In just a few minutes, I saw oncoming cars flash their lights. A cop? Here? Never seen that before. Nope, it was an old couch in the middle of my lane. Cars ahead of me drove around it. I stopped, flagged down the biker behind me, and we moved it. Four opportunities to move obstacles in ten minutes! What does this mean?
I’ve reflected on it a lot, and I think life gave me the opportunity to pay the debt I felt from the tire, I don’t have to regret that anymore. I also think it’s a metaphor for what’s happening in my life–getting things out of the way. And…be careful with your intentions, they’re powerful!